Plebiscite the only way past pokie lobby: Xenophon

In Australian Cultural Exports, Australian Domestic Tourism, Government, Harmonisation, National Headlines, South Australia

From, 11th December 2013

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is calling for a nation-wide vote on poker machine restrictions, as the Government moves to scrap laws introduced by Labor.

Government legislation before the Senate will repeal a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology, the national gambling regulator and capped ATM withdrawals at gaming venues.

The Opposition backs the legislation, but will move an amendment to preserve state-based pre-commitment schemes.

Senator Xenophon says the major parties have been compromised by the poker machine lobby.

“When the poker machine legislation is debated in this Parliament in the next 24 hours, I will be putting up an amendment, a second reading amendment that basically calls on the Government and the Opposition to support a plebiscite on poker machine reform at the next federal election,” he said.

“The only way to bypass the power of the poker machine lobby is go to directly to the people.

“Given the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this, if [the major parties] deny Australians a chance to vote on this where the Parliament has failed to act in accordance with community interests then they do so at their peril.”

Reverend Tim Costello says Labor’s decision to support moves to scrap its own poker machine laws are devastating.

The anti-gambling campaigner says the move is bad news for problem gamblers.

“[They were] mild but sensible harm minimisation measures – warning signals coming up on pokies, being able to set a voluntary limit and ATM limits in pokies venues. To actually repeal their own achievements from the last government is just devastating and, I might say, cynical,” he said.

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